Matthew Dellavedova‘s play came under scrutiny during the playoffs last season, when he rolled up on the ankle of Atlanta’s Kyle Korver (injuring him and sending him out for the series) and locked Taj Gibson‘s leg up and got him ejected when Gibson tried to kick out of it. Cavs’ fans liked to call him scrappy, but the rest of the league was debating whether he was a dirty player or just reckless.
Players apparently think dirty.
Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times polled 24 players about who was the dirtiest in the league and Dellavedova “won.”
Dellavedova received 13 votes. Oklahoma City center Steven Adams was next with seven votes. Golden State center Andrew Bogut (5), Memphis forward Matt Barnes (4) and Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka (2) rounded out the top five.
“Wow! Delly and Bogut are both from Australia,” an Eastern Conference player said about the tally. “How about that! Delly is kind of dirty and he does cross the line. But I don’t even think it’s even close with Bogut. Dellavedova is a little bit wild and out of control.”
A few people backed Dellavedova on that count, calling him more reckless than dirty.
“He ain’t dirty. He just plays hard,” said an old-school East assistant coach. “See, guys resent people that play hard because they don’t want to play hard. So if a guy plays hard, he’s dirty. He’s not dirty. He just plays hard. People question the play he made in the playoffs against Korver. I just think it was poor judgment.”
If you’re a player, and you see a guy who you fear could injure you and alter your career, are you going to draw a distinction between dirty and reckless? Coaches can, I’m not sure players see it that way. That said, the players agreed that the extra shots from Adams and particularly the plays from Bogut are calculated and try to throw their opponent off their game.
It should be noted that the top three players are two Australians and one guy from New Zealand (Adams). Also, notice that the teams with these guys at the top — Cavaliers, Thunder, Warriors — are also among the five best teams in the league.